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Diabetes in Dogs

Diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas common in dogs. Small breed dogs tend to develop diabetes more often than other breeds, but any breed can be affected by diabetes. Miniature Schnauzers, German Shepherds, Poodles, Dachshunds, Beagles and Golden Retrievers have the highest rate of getting diabetes Female middle-aged dogs seem to develop diabetes twice as often as males. Like humans, dogs can be affected by type I or type II diabetes. Type I diabetes (also known as insulin-dependent diabetes or diabetes mellitus) occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce the insulin the body needs to efficiently process carbohydrates.

The inadequate production of islet cells in the pancreases is what causes diabetes mellitus The inability of the dog's body to metabolize carbohydrates causes a deficiency of insulin or a resistance to insulin. Without insulin, sugar accumulates in the blood and spills into the urine, which causes your dog to pass large amounts of urine and to drink lots of water. When this occurs, the brain becomes sugar-deprived and your dog is constantly hungry, yet may lose weight due to improper use of nutrients from the diet. Diabetic dogs often have liver issues, cataracts, and chronic and recurrent infections. Untreated diabetic pets are more likely to develop infections and often get bladder, kidney, and skin infections.

Animals that have Cushing's disease, are overweight or have inflammation of the pancreas are predisposed to developing diabetes. In addition, some drugs can interfere with insulin, leading to diabetes.

Diabetes can develop gradually and the initial signs may not be noticeable at first.

Diabetes in Dogs Symptoms

  • increased drinking and urination
  • weight loss despite a good or increased appetite
  • re-occurring infections
  • enlarged liver
  • lethargy
  • poor coat condition
  • back legs may become weak; gait may become stilted or wobbly
  • thinning of the skin

Additional Support

Diet is a critical component of treatment; in fact, some insulin-dependent dogs have been able to stop taking insulin after changing to a low-carbohydrate diet. It is important that you never diagnose your dog yourself or stop the administration of insulin without first consulting your vet.

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